Türkiye's foreign minister on Monday reiterated his country's support for a two-state solution in Cyprus, emphasizing the need to launch talks between the two sides as equal sovereign states.
"If there is going to be negotiations on the Cyprus issue, it will be between two states, not two communities," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference in the capital Lefkosa following a meeting with Ersin Tatar, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
On the eastern fenced-off coastal area of Maras, Cavusoglu said the Greek Cypriot administration wanted to return the town under its control, "but it belongs to Northern Cyprus."
Maras, or Varosha in Greek, had virtually become a ghost town as it remained cut off from the world for 47 years. A portion of the region -- just about 3.5% of its total area -- was reopened in October 2020.
Maras was abandoned after a 1984 UN Security Council resolution that said only original inhabitants could resettle in the town.
Entry was forbidden except for Turkish army personnel stationed in the TRNC.
Turkish and TRNC authorities have repeatedly urged Greek Cypriots and other citizens who own assets in Maras to apply to the Immovable Property Commission.
Cavusoglu said Greece is "engaging in demagoguery and dishonest rhetoric," adding that it had proven unable to provide a legal response in the face of Ankara's stance.
He also stressed that the steps that Türkiye and the TRNC had taken on Maras did not violate international law.
Early on Monday, Cavusoglu also met with his counterpart Tahsin Ertugruloglu and he is expected to hold talks with other top officials during his visit.
President Tatar, for his part, condemned recent attempts by Greece to militarize islands in the Aegean Sea, just west of Türkiye, which have non-military status under international treaties, saying that he was following recent developments on the matter with "concern."
"Cooperation between the TRNC and Türkiye is of the utmost importance in maintaining the balances in the Eastern Mediterranean," Tatar said.
Speaking on ongoing efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, Tatar added that proposals by the Greek Cypriot side that would "degrade the sovereignty of the TRNC and limit its authority are null and void."
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Türkiye's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.